Bathtub Reef Beach

Bathtub Reef Beach

Saturday October 17, 2015

Bathtub Reef

There must be something about the water that keeps drawing us back in.  I have to remind myself of this every time (previously) that I’d had it up to my neck with cruising and living on a boat and would long for nothing more than an apartment in the high rise of a big city with my feet firmly planted on the ground.  Yet the water always drags me back and anytime I’m away for too long I find myself needing to dip my toes in and stare off into the horizon.

Which is likely why we found ourselves with Matt’s family spending another whole day at the shore as part of a vacation for all of us.  Luckily they must have the same draw to the water as we do and is probably why Matt and I were so lucky to grow up by the shores of Lake Michigan. So when yesterday came and there was the question of ‘What do we do with our day?’, all of us were ready to hit the beach.

Packing a cooler and all of Travis’ fishing gear since he had been getting a lot of good tips on shoreline fishing, we made our way to the Jensen Beach area to lay out our towels and relax in the sun.  Once again we were nearly the only people on this slice of sand.  It could have been nice and relaxing, but most of us had forgotten to bring any other forms of entertainment such as books, magazines, or music; and people watching was out as well.  Cracking open a pre-lunch beer, Matt and I split it while watching Travis’ fishing pole clunk down into the sand every time he tried walking away from it.  It was pretty soon agreed, we needed to go back to Bathtub Reef Beach.

Jensen Beach

Jensen Beach 2

After visiting a local diner for lunch while still carrying around salt in our hair and sand on our legs, we traveled back out to Hutchinson Island and turned into the now familiar drive at the Marriott to follow the road to our destination. Just as before, we pulled into the parking lot to find it nearly full.  There would be plenty of people watching here today.

Now don’t laugh at me when I say this, but none of us had been ready to do anything more than wade into the water until we got to this protected little tub. There have been a multitude of shark attacks in the area lately and we at least wanted to make it a little harder for them if they wanted to target us.  Not only having to get past the reef and into the tub, but now choosing our ankles among many instead of few.  Without now being the only option of human food around though, we were ready to go crazy in the water.

Walking out to the reef to do a little fishing we were awed to see schools of hundreds of fish riding each cresting wave toward us.  We were sure there would be fresh snapper on the grill that night until the lifeguard blew the whistle at us and said we needed to move further down the beach and away from people.  A possible blessing in disguise.

Down the point and around a corner were all these beautiful rocks that ran along the waters edge.  Grabbing our soft cooler and all the fishing gear we walked over the thousands of seashells strewn in front of us and took shelter in front of one of these large boulders.  Submerged under high tide, we were able to sneak in once it had fallen and situated ourselves on the still wet and worn away edges along the water.  With the waves crashing up and only just touching our toes, it was an excellent little spot to loose yourself to the day.  The perfect way to spend vacation time.  Away from the city, away from the high rises, but instead just sitting at the waters edge. With the water lapping at my toes as I stared off into the horizon.

Fishing at Bathtub Reef beach

Bathtub Reef Beach

Bathtub Reef Beach

(Above photos courtesy of Matt’s mom)

Bathtub Reef Beach Florida

Bathtub Reef Beach Stuart

Boardwalk of Stuart Florida

Our Vacation to Stuart

Wednesday October 14, 2015

Boardwalk of Stuart Florida

This week we’re very excited and very lucky, because Matt’s family is visiting us from Michigan.  Since we had never made it back there this past summer, although we totally should have, they came down to us instead.  A perfect little treat and also a much needed break away from boat work.  Having rented a two bedroom house for all of us to occupy in Stuart, just so we could go back to the boat and do some work during their visit if we wanted, we quickly realized that the boat was the last thing we wanted to see and packed our bags for the full week assuming there would be no reason to come back.

Giving them the grand tour of Daze Off (get your own personalized video tour here) we then had lunch at what is quickly becoming my favorite restaurant in Indiantown, and told them that after grabbing a few last minute thing from the boat we’d forgotten, that we’d meet them in Stuart.  All seemed well and good as we turned east on 76 with a week full of carefree fun on our minds.  Our Kia had other plans for us.

I’m not sure if it’s just deciding to test Matt and his statement of “We can just ditch this cheap van on the side of the road if it gives us too many problems”, and wanted to see how many times it could break down on us before he stayed true to his word. Just two minutes down the road the temperature levels were spiking and there was smoke pouring out of our hood.  Quickly pulling over we tightened a few hose clamps from where we’d just finished replacing the alternator and called it good.  We’d inspect it more once we arrived in Stuart.  All we had to do was get there first.

Our Kia was not so optimistic.  Another five minutes down the road the temperature levels were through the roof and just as I was looking for a side street to pull over on the engine cut out on me.  I had just enough acceleration left to use the manual steering and brakes to pull us into the driveway of a local Thoroughbred Park.  Putting a message in to Matt’s brother Travis over FB since we didn’t have anyone’s # (hey, we work through emails) we let them know they’d have to come back for us, and then went about calling a tow truck to get the van back to the marina.  First calling a guy and then cancelling because we didn’t know if he was covered by our roadside assistance, we got in touch with our insurance company who told us the closest truck was still 90 minutes away.

This is how the timeline went for the rest of the day.

4:30  Placed message to Matt’s family and called initial tow truck.

4:45 Cancel first tow truck and call insurance company

5:00 Matt’s family shows up and we begin to wait.

5:30  Insurance company calls and tells us tow truck driver has cancelled on them and they need to find us a new one.

6:00 Receive a call from insurance company.  They have found a new driver, although he is 90 minutes away.

6:30 Those two beers I had at lunch are really getting at me.  Talk Matt’s stepdad into driving me back to the marina so I can pee and also grab my camera battery charger which I’d left behind.  Also make a stop at Circle K for beer.  We’ll be needing it soon enough.

7:15 Get back to the broken down Kia with no sign of the tow truck showing up.

8:00 Get an automated call from our insurance company stating our help should have arrived by now.  Has it?

8:30 I’ve had enough of this s%*t.  We’re getting eaten alive and so the 5 of us sit smooshed in Matt’s family’s Cadillac along with all their luggage.  Just as I’m putting in a call to our insurance company I get a call from the tow truck driver stating he’s five minutes away.  Finally.

8:45 Tow truck arrives and puts the Kia on his bed.  We follow him back to the marina where he drops it off next to the boat.  We lock her up and don’t look back as we pile back in the Cadillac.  This can wait until our vacation is over.

10:00 Arrive at the Walmart in Stuart.  We’re all famished and need food stat.  Grabbing a few of the reduced price rotisserie chickens, some sides, and more beer.

11:00 Pull into the very cute rental home and claim our bedroom.  Luggage is tossed on the floor and I dive into a much needed beer.  We flip on the tv and drown our troubles in alcohol and greasy food.  Welcome to vacation.

Kia broken down

checking under hood

waiting for tow

Kia getting towed

The next day ended up being much better.  I think the universe felt bad for how our vacation began and wanted to make up for it.

For anyone who has visited the Stuart Florida area, you’ll know that it has a ton to offer and will probably be surprised that in the 7 months we’ve been living in Indiantown, we’ve never been off US-1 on our visits in.  I know.  Shame on us.  There *was* that one time I wanted to seek out a beach when Matt let me off on my own to run errands for an afternoon, but then the meet up for a Craig’s List purchased in a neighboring town was moved up about an hour and I ran out of time.  Because if I had actually made it out to the shore that day you can be damn sure I would have dragged Matt back out with me at some point.

Getting in the Cadillac in the late morning just for a drive to see what was around, sans a fishing pole jutting out next to my head this time, we kept following the signs for Beaches until we crossed a few bridges and found ourselves on Hutchinson Island. Picking one of the random and numerous signs with an umbrella and an arrow on it, we pulled into a mostly empty parking lot and followed the sandy trail out to the water.  Wow.  It was breathtaking.  I had no idea these colors of water existed on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Since this was only supposed to be an exploration day we had not brought our swim suits, towels, or really any essentials for a day at the beach.  So instead Travis hiked his shorts up Steve Urkel style to wade in the water while I ran to and fro across the sand yelling “This is sooooo gorgeous!!!”.  Really though, you can’t blame me.  Wouldn’t you be doing the same thing if you’d just spent the past five weeks working daily on a boat and then being greeted with a view like this?

trail to Hutchinson Island Beach

Hutchinson Island Beach, FL

Jessica & Travis, Hutchinson Island Beach

Travis & Matt at Hutchinson Island Beach

Since we had let ourselves fully enjoy our morning with about three cups of coffee and lounging, just this one stop had already put us past lunch time.  Matt’s mom having read wonderful things about the downtown Stuart area and it’s restaurants, we made our way there to see if we could rustle up some grub.  It turn out that yes, there are in fact a lot of nice restaurants to choose from.  You’ll just pay out of your a$$ to eat there.  If it were dinner we probably wouldn’t have minded the splurge but all we were looking for was to make our stomachs stop growling and we didn’t want to pay $12 a burger to do so.

The good new was, just as we were about to jump back in the car and make our way out to a Burger King or McDonalds, we found a really nice pizza joint with some great prices.  Sold by the slice the servings were huge and we added some garlic knots on top for the perfect lunch.  It was so big that half of us couldn’t even finish our one slice and may have groaned that we’re ‘never eating again’.

downtown Stuart Florida

Boardwalk, Stuart Florida

Our day of investigating what Stuart had to offer was long from over though.  Wanting to check out another beach we made a quick pit stop back at the rental house for all our beach gear since it was on the way.  Then it was back over the bridges and over the ICW until we were on Hutchinson Island once more.  This time on our way to Bathtub Reef Beach though.

Something I had actually researched before and found highly reviewed on Trip Advisor, I had originally brushed it aside because the photos were horrible and it did not look like anything special.  If only I had done a Google search in addition.  Fortunately Matt’s mom had also taken a look and probably had seen more to it than I had a my first glance.  She mentioned it was a place she wanted to take a look at and we’re so happy she did.

The beach itself was not as secluded as our little area closer to Jensen Beach, but the reef part was perfect.  It left a few sandbars and other areas that went as deep as 6 ft before shoaling again near the reef a few hundred feet out from shore.  Basically it was a big protected swimming pool.  Except for the jellyfish we were sharing the water with that day, but we just kept a close eye out for them. Oh yes, and one shark feeding on a school of fish that caused the lifeguard to blow his whistle and order everyone out of the water.  Luckily we had already gotten our swimming in for the day by that point.

For the rest of the afternoon we sat on our towels soaking up the sun or walking the shore line and hunting shells.  We found that if you walked further north up the beach you could find secluded areas in front of the private homes and also some beautiful rock formations along the water.  Even though it was only the beginning of our trip we all knew we’d be back here at least one more time.  It was a little slice of heaven that’s been hiding right under our eyes this whole time we’ve living here.  How could we not know about it?

Oh, and did I mention they let you bring alcohol on the beach? Now we know where we’ll be bringing all of our cruising friends for a day at the beach once they get down to Florida.

Bathtub Reef Beach, Hutchinson Island, Stuart Florida

Bathtub Reef Beach, Hutchinson Island, Stuart Florida

Jessica on Bathtub Reef Beach, Hutchinson Island, Stuart Florida